AMC’s season finale of Mad Men paved the way for another great, original series The Walking Dead. Originally a comic book by Robert Kirkman, The Walking Dead just might be the best, smartest zombie story since Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later. Kirkman’s series is less macro, more micro. Where 28 Days Later posited a global ebola-like infectious disease on the masses, replete with global political failing implications galore; Kirkman focuses on the individual, the family unit, how a father and son’s relationship morphs when faced with, oh, just the end of the world.
Kirkman’s introduction outlines his intention. He says that while he expects many to turn the pages and find a fright or two, what he is really trying to explore is something deeper. He uses the zombie-pocalypse as a context to explore panic and survival. Exploring how humans interact when pushed to the brink of life, when death and dying in huge quantifiable terms becomes the norm.
Simon Pegg of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz fame provides a thorough and intelligent epilogue to Volume 2 of The Walking Dead . In it he says that while zombies were made to scare us, they challenge our ideas of order and permanence. What they do best is teach us about ourselves: how we treat each other, how we cope during crises. Zombies force us to live each day like our last, because that sentiment becomes all too real.